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Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 2018/19, the Rt Rev Susan Brown.
Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 2018/19, the Rt Rev Susan Brown.

'He Will Not Fail'

Wednesday April 24

 

THE Moderatorial year is very nearly over for me. 

What have I enjoyed most about it? 

Virtually everything!  It has been an enormous privilege to meet with congregations up and down the land (and beyond!) including in particular, the Presbyteries of Annandale and Eskdale, Kirkcaldy, England and Hamilton.

Perhaps the one thing I had not realised was quite how much writing was expected from a Moderator – but that too, although challenging in terms of time, has presented a wonderful opportunity as newspapers as well as this magazine, have asked for articles and opinion pieces: a great chance to reach out to a wider audience.

What has most surprised me?

The good heart of the vast majority of our congregations.

Yes, I know we are less in number and we are growing older,

Yes, I know finances are not at their strongest – but right now, as a Church, we are doing probably the most we have ever done in terms of serving our local communities.

Foodbanks, lunch clubs, dementia cafes, children’s groups and organisations, space for physical fitness and for mental health support as well as specific needs groups on top of worship in all sorts of ways, is being offered in the tiniest to the largest of parishes – in rural, suburban and city settings.

I have been blown away by the innovative ways congregations have sought to meet the needs of those around them.  

I think it is also true however, that sometimes those congregations have felt ‘failures’ because their Sunday numbers are not what they used to be.

That is so sad!

Jesus himself, sought out the most vulnerable.  Not to demand they turn up at the Temple – but simply to help them and by so doing, he showed them something of their Father’s love.

There are challenges ahead for us as a Church. There is no denying that.

But the God we live for and worship and serve, is a God for whom all things are possible and if we truly believe that, then we need to put our trust in him and let him lead the way.

Sundays do still matter – but we need to find the stepping stones which might help people to bridge the gap between what they see as ‘real’ life in 21st century Scotland and the calling of the Christian faith to follow Christ and become members of his body.

Perhaps one of the places where that intersection is lived most acutely is in our interaction with service personnel. I had the opportunity to visit the Royal Navy and the work our chaplains do, is both remarkable and central to the life of that service.

Chaplains offer the space for life’s big questions to be asked and they remind an age group missing from many of our churches, of the need to wrestle with what matters - as well as offering a voice at the table when it comes to ethical debates surrounding our nation’s defence.

As this amazing opportunity draws to a close for me, I thank God for it and I pray we as a Church, find our confidence in Christ.

He will not fail.

 

The Rt Rev Susan Brown is minister at Dornoch Cathedral and Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 2018/19 .